WVXU Remembers Steve Gebhardt, Who Filmed John Lennon, Rolling Stones, Bill Monroe

Nov 2, 2015

WVXU-FM repeats a one-hour interview Saturday with Cincinnati filmmaker Steve Gebhardt, who died Oct. 15 at his Cincinnati home. He was 78.

After founding and directing the University of Cincinnati Film Society in the 1960s, Gebhardt directed films for John Lennon and Yoko Ono and produced the “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones” concert documentary in the 1970s. He also produced “Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music” in 1993 with former Enquirer music writer Larry Nager.

His credits include “John Lennon Live in New York City,” “Imagine,” “Gimme Some Truth: The Making Of John Lennon’s Imagine Album,” “John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-To-One Concert,” “Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan,” and the short films “Fly” and “Freedom” by Lennon and Ono, according to the International Movie Datebase.

“I could sit for hours and listen to his stories,” says WVXU-FM producer Lee Hay, who has aired several interviews with Gebhardt on “Around Cincinnati.”

At 11 p.m. Saturday, WVXU-FM will rebroadcast “Steve Gebhardt: Cincinnati Filmmaker,” a 2011 interview with David Delegator about two of Gebhardt’s films, Carla Bley’s Escalator Over the Hill” jazz opera and “Twenty to Life: The Life and Times of John Sinclair,” a documentary about the political activist and founding member of the White Panther Party.

“Steve had some interesting cultural connections,” says Ron Esposito, a long-time friend and former WVXU-FM staffer.

The New York Times says he was born here Stephen Eric Gebhardt on Jan. 6, 1937. His father founded the William E. Gebhardt School of Commercial Art, now part of Antonelli College here, the Times says.

While at the University of Cincinnati in the 1960s, earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in community planning, he “became infatuated with film,” the Times says. Gebphardt and fellow Cincinnati filmmaker Robert Fries moved to New York, where they met Lennon and Ono and worked for their Joko Films. 

He returned to Cincinnati about 30 years ago, says Esposito, a certified life coach and addiction recovery facilitator at the Conscious Living Center in Mount Auburn.